Group works to form a food co-op in Fraser
Some Fraser Valley locals are looking to nurture community cohesion by providing a source for local, healthy food.
Last February, Fraser resident Elaina Wiegand and Winter Park resident Kayli Foulk came up with the idea to form a local food cooperative, or co-op. As Wiegand explained, co-ops are owned and controlled by community members for their mutual benefit. It has a democratic business process, where members vote on what the store will provide.
“Our vision is building more community by providing healthy food to the Fraser Valley,” Wiegand said. “We eventually want to have workshops, cooking classes and advocate for recycling.”
Beyond creating a community gathering place and fostering dialogue on healthy living, Wiegand said the co-op will sell locally sourced and organic foods. As a vegan, Wiegand said she’d also like to see more options for community members that have meat-free diets.
“Our grocery stores provide some options, but not a lot,” she said.
In just a few months, the group has grown to 10 active members and they hope to keep growing. It’ll be a long, two-year process before a store officially opens its doors, and the co-op organizers stress the need for more members from the community with experience in grant writing and putting together business plans.
“We want to emphasize that while we do want people to join in helping, we want them to not just be supporters, but help us make this happen,” Wiegand said.
This May, the group will vote on a steering committee. Then in June, they’ll vote on an official board. Wiegand said they’ll need both a feasibility study and rough business plan by June as well.
Community members interested in helping can contact Wiegand via phone at 734-771-3510, email co-op organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect through their Facebook page, found by searching “Fraser Valley Coop.”
When it does come time to officially set up shop, Wiegand said the co-op had an idea of where they’d like to have their retail food store.
“We want to be in Fraser. There are a lot of vacant buildings and we’d like to be in one of those,” she said. “But that’s the last step.”
Leia Larsen can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603.
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